EU Turns to South African Coal Amid Russian Oil Sanctions


A machine loads a dump-body truck with coal at the Chernigovsky opencast colliery, Siberia, Russia, April 4, 2016. | Image by Ilya Naymushin/Reuters

The European Union seems to be stocking up on South-African coal in anticipation of a further divorce from Russian energy imports.

Years of dependence on Russian oil and natural gas has put the EU in a tight spot following the former’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Now that the EU has warily set a course to ween itself off Russian energy, it is grappling with its broader climate-change policies, which could frustrate its bid for energy independence from Russia.

On the one hand, it has become clear that continuing to buy Russian oil and gas would be tantamount to funding the invasion, as taxes on its energy exports account for as much as 45% of Russian state revenues, according to the International Energy Agency.

Reluctantly, the EU has committed to weaning itself off Russian energy. The escalating sanctions levied against Russia by the United States and the EU have thus far had a limited impact on its ability to continue the war.

On the other hand, many countries in the EU have pledged to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels in an effort to combat climate change. However, renewable energy sources have not been productive enough to meet Europe’s energy needs.

Consequently, many EU countries cut their own domestic production of fossil fuels and grew reliant on Russian imports.

The EU’s solution in the short term seems to be to buy record amounts of coal from South Africa.

“As soon as the Ukraine war started in February,” according to Quartz Africa, “EU countries — including the Netherlands, Italy, and Denmark — started ramping up coal imports from South Africa. The bloc has accounted for nearly 15% of [Richards Bay Coal Terminal’s] 24 million tons of coal exports so far this year, compared with 4% in all of 2021.”

Richards Bay is the single largest coal export facility in all of Africa.

German economic minister Robert Habeck has described his government’s decision to burn more coal as “bitter” but said the country must do what it can to preserve as much natural gas as possible before the winter, according to CNBC.

If you enjoyed this article, please support us today!

Formed in 2021, we provide fact-based, non-partisan news. The Dallas Express is a non-profit organization funded by charitable support and advertising.

Please join us on the important journey to make Dallas a better place!

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

Subscribe to Comments
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments